Prescription writing is a reflection of a doctor's overall competency, knowledge, and proficiency. To write a good prescription and especially complicated prescriptions, a doctor must have knowledge of:
- the disease and the medicines,
- the drug-drug interactions,
- complications of the disease,
- the patient's socioeconomic status and
- the attitude of the patient.
How to write a good prescription?
The following are a few of the key points to consider before writing a good prescription:
1. Legible writing:
- The prescription should be written in legible writing.
- It should be written with a pen or otherwise but should not be erasable.
- A non-medical person should be able to read the prescription without difficulty and there shouldn't be any spelling errors.
2. Patient and Doctor's profile:
- The prescription should state the name and address of the doctor, name and age/ date of birth of the patient.
- It should be signed in ink by the doctor.
- In children aged 12 years or less, the weight of the patient should be mentioned.
3. Details of the medicines prescribed:
- The doctor should write the strength of the tablets, capsules, lozenges or syrup.
- Strengths of syrups should be mentioned as mg/5ml or mg/ml etc.
4. Avoid decimals:
- The use of unnecessary decimals should be avoided.
- For example, 5 mg should not be written as 5.0 mg.
- Dosages above 1000 mg should be written in grams (example: 1.5 gms instead of 1500 mg), dosages between 1 mg and 1 gram should be written in milligrams (example: 500 mg instead of 0.5 gms) and dosages below 1 mg should be written in micrograms (example: 50 micrograms instead of 0.05 mg).
- Decimal is however allowed between 500 mg and 1 gm. Furthermore, micrograms and nanograms should not be abbreviated.
- When decimals cannot be avoided, zero should precede the decimal point (example: 0.5 mg instead of .5 mg)
6. Use ml instead of CC:
- Where syrups or liquids are mentioned, ml should be used instead of cubic centimeters (c.c.) or cm3.
7. Mention the dose and frequency:
- The dose of the medicine and the frequency of dosages should be mentioned.
- Where medicines are to be taken when required, the minimum dosage interval should be mentioned.
8. Write the dose instead of the volume:
- In children, write the dose instead of the volume of the syrup.
- The volume of the syrup may be mentioned in brackets (Example: 125 mg three times daily, instead of 5 ml three times daily).
- Tablets and capsules may be written as one or two tablets daily.
9. Avoid abbreviations:
- Write the name of the drug clearly.
- Abbreviations should not be used.
- The quantity of the medicines or the duration of treatment should be mentioned.
10. Write instructions in the local language:
- Patients should be given instructions in local language regarding specific meals to take or avoid, exercise, any danger signs he/ she should be more careful about and when to come back for a repeat check-up.
11. Above all, Be Professional.
- Do not extra medicines and extra investigations.
- Don't fill the whole page,
- Don't cheat the patient by changing brand names
- Write the medicines in groups (example: write antihypertensives first, then write anti-diabetic medicines, and so on)